Archive for March 24th, 2009

March 24, 2009

Demonstrating A Flair For The Reactionary

by Smitty

He Who Blogged Before Blogs Existed, Jerry Pournelle, points to something that Pisses The [Expletive] Me Right Off.
We have a Constitution. Warts and all, it’s what we have. Pay some attention to Amendment Ten, and do not dumb it down. Rather, lift the citizens up to the level of understanding it as written.
Having sworn to support and defend the document against all enemies foreign and domestic, the thought of anyone trying to “help” the text leaves me cold, cold, cold. Mr. President, you are encouraged to conserve your creativity for your next best-seller. You are discouraged from setting a precedent for people to get jiggy wit’ da text.

March 24, 2009

LIVE: From Labor Conference

UNIVERSITY CLUB, Washington, D.C.

Two hours ago, Grover Norquist broke the news to a labor-relations conference here that Sen. Arlen Specter (R-INO) will oppose EFCA (“Card Check”) in the Senate, which almost certainly dooms that vicious legislation to defeat.

I was scooped on this story by Dave Weigel and Phil Klein, because I had to go pay the water bill this morning. And now I have to go move my car from the $1 an hour spot before it gets towed. This conference is sponsored by Capital Research Center, and I could have been here earlier but . . .

HTTJYUB, as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman explains.

UPDATE: One of the speakers here today was Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK) representing Save Our Secret Ballot. Just got a press release from SOS Ballot:

“Of course we are pleased that Sen. Specter listened to his constituents and has decided to not support cloture or card check. Card check may be dead in this Congress, but we still must push ahead at the state level to effectively kill the idea permanently. Other Senators should take note that Sen. Specter specifically addressed the issue of the cloture vote. Senators who say they’re voting for cloture but not necessarily supporting the bill are playing a cynical game to fool voters.”
Tim Mooney, national coordinator,
Save Our Secret Ballot

Specter is perhaps the most notorious congressional crapweasel ever to put an “R” beside his name — and that’s saying a lot.

UPDATE II: (phone report via Smitty) Having laid waste to the buffet, the McCain tsunami rolled forth in search of intermediate conquest. The ultimate goal, as always, being the karaoke bar, and the demolition of all things tasteful.

UPDATE III:
Cynthia seems surprised by the entire concept:

Did I miss a meeting? I know I’m brand new as a fiscal conservative, but I really thought the secret ballot was one of the few things that almost everyone in the U.S. supported. When did the secret ballot pass from being the cornerstone of our democratic republic to being anathema to our future because it stops labor union thugs from forcing people to join labor unions? DIS-EMPOWERING THUGS IS WHAT THE SECRET BALLOT IS SUPPOSED TO DO!!!

C’mon, lady: why settle for a Faustian bargain when there’s a Cthulhuian one to be had?

March 24, 2009

It’s David Brooks fisking day!

What I Did On My Free Trip to Afganistan“:

Wardak Province, Afghanistan
You drive up to the forward operating base in Wardak Province in an armored Humvee, with the machine-gunner sticking up through the roof and his butt swinging on a little perch just by your head. Outside there’s a scraggly downtown, with ragamuffin Afghan children, almost no old people (the median life expectancy is 45) and dust everywhere. The dust of Afghanistan piles up in front of the storefronts and covers the ruins of the buildings destroyed during the Soviet period, or during the civil war or during some lost conflict from centuries past.

The second-person pronouns (“you,” “your”) are wrong. You are not in Afghanistan, he is. But such quibbles aside, Brooks’s ability as a reporter — his ability to describe — have never been in dispute. One could complain about the “scraggly” and “ragamuffin,” but the genuine objection to Brooksianism involves his opinions, which are invariably wrong. So let’s cut to the chase and quote his concluding paragraph:

When you put more boots on the ground, you not only augment your army’s firing power, you give it the capacity to experiment. A few years ago, the good guys had only vague ideas about how to win this war. Now they’re much smarter.

Which, coming from David Brooks, can only mean that the situation in Afghanistan is rapidly descending into chaos and disaster. Give generously today!

P.S.: I’ve got some reporting of my own to do today, so Frequent Commenter Smitty is in charge.

March 24, 2009

Obama at 50-50

Jules Crittenden had this as a blog exclusive last night: New Zogby poll has the job approval numbers for Obama at 50 percent. See commentary by Jeff Goldstein, Pam Geller and Moe Lane.

This has got to scare Democrats to death, because the whole point of hitching their wagons to Obama’s star was that Obama was popular. In fact, one might say that Plouffe, Axelroad & Company developed a formula in which “popular” was an acceptable synonym for “successful.” But the gross incompetence of the Obama administration can’t be solved by P.R. gimmicks. Five weeks ago, when the polls were looking good for Obama, I said:

Idiots. Economics is not public relations. Don’t you people understand that it doesn’t matter how “popular” you and your policies are, if what you are doing is the wrong thing to do? And that it doesn’t matter how clever and persuasive your arguments are, if your policies bring disaster?

In three words: It Won’t Work. Or, in more words . . .

UPDATE: Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey reminds us that Rasmussen has been showing steady declines in Obama’s approval numbers.

PREVIOUSLY:

P.S.: Be sure to check out MELTDOWN, Professor Thomas Wood’s new bestseller about the financial crash and why Obamanomics won’t work.

March 24, 2009

‘An Unprincipled Republican Is A Liberal By Default’

By Smitty
More Zo goodness. Roger L. Simon doesn’t really exude sufficient self-righteousness to make a convincing G-man, but the part is a small one. Cha-check it out. And subscribe to PJTV. It’s the second most important thing you can do, after helping put RSM’s kids through college.

March 24, 2009

Hey, wait: It’s not Tuesday yet!

At American Thinker, Lee Cary adds some fiskiliciousness to the heaping piles of epithets I’ve piled on David Brooks’s pointy little head:

Mr. Brook’s meandering, intellectual confliction displays the underlying condition of some high-profile “moderate conservative” journalists. Theirs is an exercise in political punditry based on narcissistic omphaloskepsis (i.e., self-adoring navel gazing).

Thanks for contributing the extra helping of contempt that the useless idiot deserves, Mr. Cary, but nobody has hated David Brooks longer or more thoroughly than I have.

Folks, accept no substitutes! Give generously NOW to the original David Brooks Fisking Fund, because a slime is a terrible thing waste.

March 24, 2009

And the bad news is . . .

. . . there is no good news:

American consumers still have debt coming out of their ears, and they’ll be working it off for years. House prices are still falling. Retirement savings have been crushed. Americans need to increase their savings rate from today’s 5% (a vast improvement from the 0% rate of two years ago) to the 10% long-term average. Consumers don’t have room to take on more debt, even if the banks are willing to give it to them.

Via Hot Air, where the one-day “Geithnermaniabounce is examined from several points of view. My own point of view is that last week’s Fed buy-up of Treasury notes represents the fateful step into the fiscal/monetary abyss of Weimar America. We are so f****d now that the only question is what kind of financial rubble we will find most useful in rebuilding the shattered wreck of an economy that will be left desolated by the remorselessly descending spiral of inflation/stagnation that now begins in earnest.

How bad will it get? Nobody knows. A friend of mine remarked to me last week . . . well, I won’t repeat it. Bad. Very bad.

Look: The Geithner bounce caused Citigroup to close over $3, but for most of the past few weeks, you could buy a share of Citigroup for less than the fee you pay every time you use your ATM card. And my hunch, although only a hunch, is that Citigroup will be down around $2 again by next week. (Richard Bernstein: SELL!)

What’s going on? Let Alex Knapp and Andrew Sullivan encourage others to sneer at the “Going Galt” phenomenon, but the simple facts are (a) we entered 2009 facing a severe capital shortage, (b) the Obama administration’s moves seem calculated to scare capital to death, and (c) without capital, capitalism doesn’t work. (Of course, without capital, socialism doesn’t work either, but I don’t have time to explain that right now.)

More than a month ago, when the Dow had just dipped under 8,000, I noted that UC-Irvine Professor of Economics and Public Policy Peter Navarro was predicting the DJIA to fall to 6,000. It closed Monday at 7,775.86, which means . . .? If you’re in a position to short the financials, do it. But that’s just an economics professor talking. What does he know?

What Sully and the other economic ignorati don’t seem to see is how Obamanomics is leading us into the deadly fiscal/monetary pincers:

  • There is a market for debt. At any given time, there is a finite amount of capital liquidity in the world. When the U.S. government goes on a massive deficit spending spree, this represents . . .? Increased demand for capital via the debt (bond) market. Very good, class. But the increased capital demand created by Uncle Sam’s deficit spree results in greater scarcity of capital for other purposes, including investment in private industry (stocks). And as Uncle Sam’s demand is piled onto his already ginormous stack of unpaid debt, the natural workings of the debt market would cause interest rates to rise, but . . .
  • The Fed is rigging the game. By ginning up phantom dollars to purchase Uncle Sam’s debt, Bernanke is engaged in legalized counterfeiting. The inflationary effect is not immediately reflected in consumer prices because we’re in a deflationary cycle where nobody’s buying anything anyway. The effect of Bernanke’s phantom-dollar swindle, therefore, is to devalue investment dollars. Even if your 401K got a miniscule bounce Monday, your real net worth has been diminished by Bernanke’s devaluing of the dollar. And finally . . .
  • Unfunded liabilities are coming due. The first Baby Boomers, born in 1946, will begin turning 65 in 2011 — just 21 months from now — and Uncle Sam’s got no legit way to meet the senior-citizen entitlement obligations that will continue to escalate through 2029. With no legit means to meet the looming entitlement crisis, Uncle Sam will therefore resort to illegitimate ways (including still more inflation) to swindle the old folks out of what they’ve been promised.

“The fundamentals suck,” Michelle Malkin said last September, and no rational person with a minimal understanding of basic economics could disagree that the sucking has only become louder since then. We are looking at an ill-designed house of cards on top of a Ponzi scheme erected over the San Andreas Fault. The question is not whether disaster will result, but when.

When that disaster finally hits — when capital freaks the hell out and the bond market goes sideways — the lone sanctuary of sanity and calm will be Galt’s Gulch.

People who are seriously talking about “Going Galt” are not parroting partisan political rhetoric. They are not engaged in a symbolic “protest” tantrum. They are talking about doing what savvy, affluent people have been doing for many months: Attempting to put their economic assets beyond the reach of government policy.

For people who don’t have seven-figure bank accounts, their primary asset is their earning ability. Ergo, the fellow with a day job at JiffyLube or Aamco is putting in fewer hours there, and more hours working at home as a “shade-tree mechanic,” doing simple repairs on a cash basis for his friends and neighbors. (Call this the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” economy.) And that’s a smart investment of time for many workers, since there are millions of Americans now working full-time jobs who will be unemployed a year from now.

Go with what you know. Invest in yourself. You have skills that have real dollar value. If you’re looking at a 401K or mutual fund that’s worth 40% of what it was worth at Christmas 2005, ask yourself what you could do with what you’ve got left. Think of the long-term picture.

If Professor Navarro is right about the Dow eventually falling to 6,000 — and frankly, I think he’s probably being too optimistic — then the DJIA is currently almost 30% above where it will be when it hits bottom. What would the tax penalty be if you zeroed out your 401K? Less than 30%? And considering the inflationary effects of the Bernanke/Geithner strategy, what would be the real value of that 70% you’d have left in your 401K when the market finally bottoms out? So if you cashed out and bought gold now . . .

Well, I’m not an economics professor or a financial advisor, so pay no attention to the mere speculative hypotheticals of a damn blogger. But if what I’m saying makes more sense to you than what you’re hearing on CNN or reading in the Wall Street Journal, please listen to our good friend, Gunnery Sgt. Hartman.

UPDATE: Dan Riehl is of a similar attitude, while Mary Katharine Ham discusses the idiotic details of the latest idiocy from the Idiot-in-Chief and his idiot henchmen. This ongoing Carnival of Idiocy in D.C. is starting to remind me of that scene in “Blazing Saddles” where Mel Brooks as Gov. LePetomaine says, “I didn’t get a ‘harumph’ out of that guy!”

UPDATE II: Professor William Jacobson and Professor Donald Douglas both have more. Hmmm. When will Professor Cthulhu weigh in on this meme?

UPDATE III: Welcome, Instapundit readers! (See: Rule 1.) Please remember that it’s almost Our Favorite Day of the Week.

P.S.: Be sure to check out MELTDOWN, Professor Thomas Wood’s new bestseller about the financial crash and why Obamanomics won’t work.